Sunday, December 30, 2007

RIAA Attacks Personal Use

Well, we all knew that they believed it, but now it's come official: the Recording Industry Association of America is now denying the right of music users to copy their own personal recordings onto their own computer.

From the Washington Post:

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

The RIAA is a trade group. They cannot dictate copyright law. Merely stating that legitimate personal use is illegitimate does not make it so. That's the good news.

The bad news is that the more they repeat their mantra, the more they will begin to believe it (heck, those middle-aged office-lodged cats probably believed it from the beginning - remember when they tried to block the sale of the first MP3 players?). The effect on future lawsuits?

Just remember: A little sister with a Big Brother complex isn't dangerous until Mom and Dad start to believe it.

The scariest quote from the article:

At the Thomas trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG's chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,' " she said.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Bevy of YouTubes

I've uploaded some of my better camera videos to YouTube (besides the Paper Theatre one mentioned before), so all of you will be able to see my strangest memories firsthand.

These are only the highlights, but you can "view other videos by this artist" to see the rest.

Insane Cats Fight To The Death (Link)

Real-World Performance Art (Link)

R.I.P.: The Teddy Bear that No One Loved (Link)

Highlights of Terrible, Terrible Basketball Players (Link)

Monkey Doing Backflips (I'm Not Above This Sort of Thing) (Link)

Me Force-Pushing a Chair (Link)

Me Playing "Spoon Man" Until a String Snaps (Link)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

(Now You Can) See Spock Run

Well, the Star Trek primer mentioned earlier in this blog has now begun at Forest For the Trees. It's a little harder to do this than I thought, so the Kirk/Khan story will take a few more days. I also have many more cartoons to scan once I can get to a @#$! printer.

For now, enjoy: See Spock Run

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Have a Very Scary Christmas Etcetera

My friend just showed me this recent "Christmas message" from Hillary Clinton. It's enough to make a libertarian like me start hyperventilating. At least she smiles in this ad.

Though this commercial terrifies my sensibilities it's tough to deny that Hillary's campaign has shown a good natured self-effacing sense of humor. Her interviews, wherein an evasive, cold Hillary dodges questions and repeats platitudes are another story.

Someone Just Died

A lady on the radio just said: "Somebody just died while you were listening to me. And that somebody is someone's daughter, sister, mother, aunt or friend."

For the love of Pete, lady, stop taunting us and release the rest of your hostages! Neither of us wanted it to be this way!

Wait - now she's talking about lung cancer. I don't understand this lady at all.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Microsoft: New Internet Explorer Better Than Ever, Downloading Firefox Made Easier

REDMOND, WASHINGTON - A press release from Microsoft headquarters released this morning celebrates the new features available in Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 7, designed to make the process of finding and downloading Mozilla Firefox simpler than ever.

"Our new interface and 'tab' system allows the user to locate and download the newest version of Mozilla Firefox far, far more conveniently than previous versions of Internet Explorer", Microsoft Spokesman Pauline Hardy comments in the press release dated Dec 20: "The new download manager handles the small download easily, allowing the user to begin quality browsing with Firefox sooner than ever."

The new minimalist interface and lack of visible menus makes an unambiguous, daring statement: Microsoft has taken off the kid gloves. "Microsoft is absolutely committed to our customers", says Hardy. "Security, speed and reliability are all central tenets of our corporate philosophy, and this is why the user's ability to acquire and run Firefox quickly and immediately is a top concern."

An Internet Explorer user running the browser for the first (and last) time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Goofy Puppet Theatre

Well, here's my first YouTube video: a whimsical little thing shot and edited on an Exilim camera nearly a year ago in the Philippines (thus the dingy linoleum and cheapo electric fan in the clip).

It's got everything: Nazi interrogations, ludicrous methods of persuasion, mock subtitles and even a hapless Teddy Roosevelt.


Car Wash Carnage

I'd like to know the context for this clip, succinctly titled "Old Man Goes Nuts in Car Wash", but it's not really necessary. Everything about this clip is pure art, and it's shot differently than any Hollywood footage you've ever seen: security cam footage.

Wouldn't it be great to see a bank robbery shot this way for a film in lieu of the overglossed, overshot mess we usually get?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sigh. . .

So Rush Limbaugh has proven my point. In some not-really-tasteless-but-seemingly-facetious remarks from today's transcript of his program, he draws attention to Hillary Clinton's appearance as an aging woman. Not her appearance as a candidate, mind you, but as an aging woman.

Continuing upon remarks made about America's obsession with appearance:

"So the question is this: Will this country want to actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis? . . . And that woman, by the way, is not going to want to look like she's getting older, because it will impact poll numbers. It will impact perceptions.

In politics, perceptions are reality. So there will have to be steps taken to avoid the appearance of aging. You know, politics is not for sissies. Now, I'm looking at people on the other side of the glass here and they're laughing and they're smiling. They think I'm making a joke here and there's some big punch line coming. I'm not . . . You go back and look at presidents that we elected prior to TV, and presidents we elected after TV, and you will notice a huge difference. Do you think a bloated president could win? We had plenty of fat-guy presidents. Do you think one could get elected today? There's not a prayer! There isn't a prayer. Remember when people said, "The way to tell if Gore's really going to run is if he starts losing weight?" It's just what it is, folks. It's just what it is. Perfection, the appearance of perfection and good health, all of that ties into the perception of mental acuity, stamina, being able to hold up to the job -- and I'm just suggesting, it's one of these intangibles.

You know, people will never tell you in an exit poll, "Yeah, I voted for Candidate X because he looks better than Candidate Y." They're not going to tell you, "I like their position on the Taliban. Yeah, I love their health care plan." They don't tell you what the real reason is -- and, of course, there is nobody else out there with the guts or the stupidity to address this as I am, but it's just something to put in the hopper and to think about. Let me give you a picture, just to think about. I'm not even going to answer the question for you, just want you to think about this. The campaign is Mitt Romney versus Hillary Clinton in our quest in this country for visual perfection, hmm?"

You think that I'm going to put Limbaugh into the grinder for this, and I'm not. I'm really not. I think that he has a valid point. Depending on your point of view his remarks may be seen as sexist, but when studies have shown that the tallest presidential candidate receives the most popular votes 88% of the time and wins 84% of the time, it's hard not to believe that the human race really isn't that shallow. Intangibles.

It's not really your fault - subconscious triggers influence much of your behavior. Advertisers and presidential candidates rely on this fact, and, in a quest for a scientifically-perfect candidate, they've moved away from the issues and focused on the image. It's a Machiavellian approach, but Edward Bernays was really on to something.

Experience, Likability, Good Judgement and "Change, change, change"

Papa Clinton has been a popular headline recently, attacking the fellow Democratic nominees on behalf of his wife. Aaaand we're beginning to see the typical Clinton image-placing that got good ol' William in office. In other words, we're moving away from issues and into intangibles, where the Clintons hope to fight their rivals (mainly Barack Obama) on their own turf - empty platitudes.

So - what's important this time? Is it experience? Bill's been attacking Obama for his lack of experience in the senate, but senatorial experience sure wasn't important in 1992. Is likability the most important intangible? Hill's campaign seems to think so.

My favorite Clinton angle? Change, change, change. If being seen as a "change agent" is so crucial to the presidency, why isn't Vermin Supreme a frontrunner? I'm sure he'd change the country a fair bit.

Change, change, change. What does that mean? Makes about as much sense as Obama's "Hope" platform. On the Republican side, we don't even know Huckabee's and Romney's platforms. As far as I can gather, Huckabee wants to "make everything better", and Romney never actually thought he'd be running for the presidency and now finds himself in the awkward position of backtracking. Were Romney nominated, I wonder if Hannity would call him out on this flip-floppery.

Actually, I think we all know the answer to that. Hannity could escape from intellectual dishonesty and double-standardism if he'd just admit that changing opinions, in and of itself, is not a sign of dishonesty, unless you live in some neo-con Bizarro World where you somehow managed to come up with all of the right opinions the first time and quaint "information" is a mere distraction.

Tangents aside, in a country where a candidate with good judgement is only a priority for some 1/4 of America's voters, something like this had to happen. And each presidential election is only going to get more generic and more calculated. Because that's what we want, it's what we deserve, and it's what we're going to get.

Harry Potter Rock Bands "Rock Out" Against Big Media

The fight against media consolidation has an unlikely ally.

In a "Rock Against Bush"-like project (though probably a great deal more productive), prominent wizard rock bands have banded together to fight against "Voldemedia" in typical unorthodox style. Harry and the Potters, the granddaddies of wizard rock, even lend their pipes to a fairly-rocking song.

Wizard rock is hit-or-miss (Draco and the Malfoys still rule), but by all means listen to the MP3s and read their take at the HP Alliance headquarters.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Imperial March Done Metal (And Orchestral)

Everybody so inclined should check out this awesome metal version of the Imperial March, courtesy of jarrydn at Newgrounds:

Imperial March Heavy Metal

Aaaand, for completedness' sake, there's always the self-consciously corny death metal version:

A quick search on YouTube reveals other versions:

Another YouTube guitar guy plays the Imperial March

The Lego Star Wars Comedy Clip

The Beloit Janesville Symphony Awesomes Up the Concert Hall

Sequoia Blasts the Competition Near End of DJ Contest

Imperial March Through Hand Farts

No Doubt Plays the Imperial March (It picks up at the end)

But, all things said, nothing tops the holy majesty of Anchorhead's Shredisode IV (warning: some death metal vocals and roaring. It's too ridiculous to take seriously, considering that they've just taken the dialogue from the movie and sludged it up. The Luke/Obi-Wan conversation is hilarious, not to mention the canteen music redo. These guys have a healthy sense of humor.):

See Spock Run

I've come up with some awesome ideas in the past, but nothing cheers me like knowing I've come up with an original idea that no one has thought of. "Spontaneously" coming up with something and then finding out a bajillion other people already thought of it is a bit disheartening.

For example, a few years ago I came up with the idea of a gangsta rap album called "Right to Remain Violent". Turns out that somebody else (actually, quite a few "somebody elses") came up with it first.

But today Google can't quench my spirits, for the idea I came up with at 1:00 this morning is truly mine. Earlier, lying in my bed, the phrase "see Spock run" popped into my fuzzy little brain. A little Google-ing has validated my originality. Nothing but a few out-of-context blog posts.

It's a children's book with Dick & Jane-style illustrations. Here are the words for the first couple of stories:

See Spock Run

Oh, see Spock.
See Spock run.
Run, Spock, run.
Oh, see Spock run!
Funny, funny Spock!
Run from the illogic that pervades human society.

Kirk is Mad

See Kirk.
Kirk is mad.
Kirk is a mad, mad captain.
Why is Kirk mad?
"Khan is a big jerk", says Kirk.
Oh oh oh.
Khan is no good.
No good at all.

Getting the smart/stupid syntax just right is difficult, but this could go on for volumes.

I mean, as a webcomic. Trademarks and copyrighted characters hardly apply on the internet anyway. Look at Chad Vader, for crying out loud.

From the "Too Much Information" File. . .

What are my stupidest mistakes? To date, the two following:

1) Not noticing the bath/shower switch and absolutely drenching myself with frigid water in preparation for a bath. I do this all the time.

2) This is also an error I have made multiple times. While cooking a potentially-delicious pot of macaroni & cheese, I am prone to accidentally sucking a piece of molten macaroni down my throat while trying to test a piece. The trick is to get it past your sensitive gums by parsing your lips, but the wind-tunnel effect created is a sure recipe for some uvula scarring.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Game Physics Complete Cognitive Meltdown

Those of you who appreciate game physics on a massive scale should love this video. I enjoyed watching the barnacles in Half-Life 2 grab bits of barrel debris, but that can't hold a candle to this:

Watch 3000 Barrels Fall Down [And Explode] in Crysis

Ignore the trashy heavy metal soundtrack if you wish.

It almost makes me forget that the old "explosive barrel" is about as institutionalized in gaming as, y'know, the health pack. As a friend, I tell you: do not miss the ending. As the creator says: "I can't look directly into the explosion for more than 2 seconds or my system will crash."

EDIT: Rather than endure the ads and small resolution of the direct link, I'll be linking to Kotaku's coverage of the video instead.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


This is definitely one of the best things They Might Be Giants has done since "No!" You could hardly be blamed for thinking the boys are losing it, but this does much to rekindle my faith in the group. This song is pretty much half Devo, half The Knife.

Bold, Sadly Optimistic Predictions From Scott Adams

Image from

From his blog entry "The Wonderful Time":

"I was watching a TV show last night about scientists who can use a modified inkjet printer to 'print' a new organ for your body, one layer at a time, using your own cells that were grown in a dish. They have already created replacement bladders that the body won’t reject. And they are already working on hearts.

You might say you don’t want to live for hundreds of years, but you are underestimating the new mood enhancing drugs that are totally legal and will put you in a state of perpetual bliss.

So there you have it: Immortality is getting nearer, and we’ll all be stupid-happy, and wealthy.

Don’t think about why that prediction is probably wrong. Just enjoy The Wonderful Time."

A Loaded Question

Dang it, Drudge! I promised comedy and you made me get all riled up again! Why you always gotta make me hit you?

Actually, this one isn't Drudge's fault. It's just a banner ad. But this ad features a very interesting loaded question:

I'd like to find the source of the ad but I had navigated away from the page and it didn't appear despite refreshing a few times.

Assumption #1: Being committed to human rights, even the rights of terrorists, means that one is "blinded by hate". Dang it - human rights are only for Americans - unless they're from another country or speak a different language or are suspected of something terrible. After all, if they hadn't done anything wrong, they wouldn't have been arrested, would they?

Assumption #2: One must be "full of hate" to recognize "interrogation techniques" as torture. Is waterboarding torture? Let's see what Webster has to say:

1. Extreme mental distress.
2. Unbearable physical pain.
3. Intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain; "an agony of doubt"; "the torments of the damned".
4. The act of distorting something so it seems to mean something it was not intended to mean.
5. The act of torturing someone; "it required unnatural torturing to extract a confession".
1. Torment emotionally or mentally.
2. Subject to torture.

Hmm. I suppose Assumption #2 is true, providing that the debate is taking place in Bizarro World. Here on Earth, however, it seems that labelling "effective interrogation techniques" as "torture" is correct by definition. So - "full of hate" = "knows how to read a dictionary". Sounds about right.

A dirty terrorist enjoying an "effective interrogation technique" as his brain experiences the sensation of drowning (simulation).

Assumption #3: Every man being detained by U.S. authorities is a proven terrorist (presumably with knowledge that will save an entire city from a bomb, as the favorite example goes).

Assumption #4: "Supporting the rights of terrorists" is somehow a "bad" thing. Isn't "human" rights called "human" rights for a reason?

If I sound angry, it's just the full-of-hate talking.

Blood alone moves the wheels of history!

No scintillating analysis today. Instead I offer a grand clip from The Office episode "Dwight's Speech". Jim admonishes Dwight to follow the example of Benito Mussolini's oratory. Humor follows:

The second half is even better but I couldn't find it. The complete text of the Speech:

(Slam, slam, slam!) Blood alone moves the wheels of history! Have you ever asked yourselves in an hour of meditation which everyone finds during the day, how long we have been striving for greatness? (Slam!) Not only the years we've been at war, the war of work. But from the moment as a child when we realized that the world could be conquered. It has been a lifetime struggle (Slam!), a never-ending fight, I say to you (Slam!), and you will understand that it is a privilege to fight! (light applause) We are warriors!! (moderate applause) Salesmen of northeastern Pennsylvania I ask you, (Slam!) once more rise and be worthy of this historical hour!

No revolution is worth anything unless it can defend (Slam!) itself! (applause)

Some people will tell you "salesman" is a bad word, they'll conjure up images of used car dealers and door-to-door charlatans. This is our duty to change their perception. I say, salesmen, and women, of the world, unite! (applause) We must never acquiesce, for it is together, together (with the audience) that we prevail! (takes microphone into his hand) We must never cede control of the motherland for it is (with the audience again) together that we prevail!

Happy 2500+ Views Day!

Bloggers like being watched. And as my beloved friend AdSense has informed me, 2,500+ of you wonderful people have now read my blog since its inception (and since I began using the service).

So - keep reading and I'll keep posting. I'm already a couple Big Mac Combos ahead from your ad clickage. I'll be hitting the humor angle a little more regularly and ditching some of the linkage overkill.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Pent-Something of FFTT Updates!

Just so you all know, my home computer is better than any computer on campus. This is evidenced by my ability to actually get PhotoShop to work correctly.

The upshot of this is that we now have a fairly-sizable update on Forest For the Trees.

FFTT #19: Jolly Weird

FFTT #20: Amish Humor

FFTT #21: Don't Forget the Catseye

FFTT: #22: No Wrong Way

FFTT: #23: Only PBS My Foot

Friday, December 07, 2007

Animals Strike in Solidarity

In a video sent by Colbert report writers to Boing Boing (isn't it always Boing Boing?) the solidarity strike of the internet's animals is detailed. Particularly funny.

Boy Defeats Moose Using World of Warcraft Tactic

Did I mean to post about this yesterday? Yes! Did I? No!

So you're getting it today (Or maybe you've seen it somewhere else.). From Wired News:

"Hans Jørgen Olsen, a 12-year-old Norwegian boy, recently survived a moose attack by feigning death, "just like you learn at level 30 in World of Warcraft."

. . .According to Norwegian site Nettavisen , Hans and his sister apparently enraged one of the local moose (mooses? meese?) during a walk in the forest near their home. After shouting at the gigantic creature to ward it away from his sister, Olsen dropped to the ground."

Lovely. All of the Civilization-lovin' I got in my Junior High School history classes taught me that games can teach real skills. Seems that one Hans Olsen has found this out for himself.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Making Garfield Funny. . .

Viewing this thread at Truth and Beauty Bombs some time ago has inspired me. Posters theorized that the Garfield comic strip is funnier when Garfield's dialogue is removed, and I concur. One poster has even begun to remove Garfield himself from the strip to great effect.

Me? Whatever's funny. Monday's strip seemed so ambiguously dirty that I had to PhotoShop my way to a better punchline:

It's funnier this way. Here's the original strip for comparison.

Website Validates My Existence. . . Sort of

The Blog Readability Test is a respected online algorithm designed to determine your blog's intellectual level and readability. Apparently there's a bug in the code because I received the above rating on my first run-through.

A little Google-ing deflated my burgeoning self-confidence, however. Two posts on

Sari Al-Hiari says:
indicate that I may not have the bragging rights I initially thought:
It said Genius for me too, I guess it goes to genius rating if it doesnt understand the content, which means if you have a lot of flickr, youtube embeds as well as Arabic, you probably get the Genius rating …. which I am guessing is not a good thing.
Hani Obaid says:
I think this is random, betweent [t]his morning and now I changed from elementary to Junior high.

It appears that the website may be effectively a measure of incomprehensibility. Perhaps a better post image would read: "Your Blog is INCOMPREHENSIBLE. Good luck communicating with others."

And I was all-too prepared to begin a rant of stream-of-consciousness nonsense to artificially boost the rating, too:

Ambidextrous troglodytes reciprocated across the discombobulation of the all-null radiating void, secure in their euphemistic paroxysms assurance a time-lapse profanity splash gapped-type land craft mapped toucrache.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm Dreaming of a Green Hanukkah

Israeli environmentalists are urging Jews Worldwide, a popular rock band, to light one less candle on their Menorahs this year to protect the planet.

Oops - let's start over.

Israeli environmentalists are urging Jews worldwide to leave one candle unlit this Hanukkah to protect the environment. One of the movement's proponents, Tom Wegner of Update Marketing Media, feels that this is much, much more than a futile, futile gesture:

"To tell a child on the eighth day that we are not lighting the last candle as a sacrifice for the environment is an act that is not only educational but also will prevent the release of a huge amount of carbon dioxide that would hurt the environment."

In other news: telling children things helps the environment! All this time I've been scowling and yelling at them, but this "telling". . . yes, he's on to something!

But before I get too sarcastic, I present a slew of articles proving that cutting candle usage by 14% is actually a great idea - much, much better than the planet-pillaging mess of seven candles. The Jewishly-minded among you should take note:

The New Scientist - Candles Are Poisoning Your Household and Stupiding Your Children

Xiaodong - Candles Blamed For Earth Pollution


So poison your family to death 14% slower by eliminating one candle this year.

The EPA has confirmed that Jews, Druids, the Amish and other
candle users are at risk of contracting "candle face". Stop candle face
today! For more information call 1-800-SAD-WICK

OK - Drudge is Officially Full of Crap

I've posted on DrudgeReport misinformation in the past. This, however, actually makes me angry. This spits on every previous example of journalistic misconduct that I've seen into complete intellectual dishonesty.

The offending headline(s) were printed adjacently on December 4th:

Senate's 'historic vote on global warming' set for Wednesday...

Snow likely...

Either Drudge has been taking lessons from Ann Coulter on sanctimonious conservative prickishness or he's started inserting his abrasive radio personality into his news coverage. If Drudge keeps his intellectual integrity intact (I won't lie - he's been moderate in the past) I'll stay with him. If he's going to continue to look down on his audience like so, I will turn elsewhere.

I have posted a copy of the image on the top of the page, but Blogger image posting is not working today for some reason. Just one of the lovely perks of this service.